Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Captain of the Hook - Nate Dogg RIP

Snoop Dogg won't be coming to my hometown this week. The 39-year-old rapper is taking some time off to mourn the passing of his friend and frequent collaborator, Nate Dogg. Nate died from congestive heart failure on March 15. He was 41.

I can't think of another singer that could leave a legacy like Nate Dogg. His trademark baritone was a vital element of the West Coast rap sound and his distinctive delivery elevated the music of one hip hop's greatest beatmakers, Dr. Dre. But listening to a local radio station attempt to pay tribute to the singer outlined the negative side of his voice. Most of his popular lyrics, usually heard as the chorus to rap hits, were bleeped out.

Nate Dogg, born Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, was a gifted singer who used his voice to talk about dicks, hoes and drugs. He made misogyny sound good. He might not have made you smoke weed every day, but he made you sing about it. He mirrored the lack of morality and irresponsibility of the rappers he worked with, echoing their adolescent fantasies of sex and violence with his melodic monotone. It was a dangerous and delicious concoction, one listeners never got tired of, no matter how many hooks he hung his bowler on.

After one of Nate Dogg's recent strokes, the news of his condition was passed on to the media by a member of Innate Praise, a gospel choir he had formed. Perhaps a Dogg can learn new tricks.

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